Westminster Expedition Students in the Open American West

During the 2017 Fall Semester, 14 students, two professors, and a program coordinator will load books, camping gear, and themselves into a couple of vans and hit the road for a semester-long tour of the American West.

The trip is designed as an exploration into the issues at the heart of the contemporary West. Students will earn 16 credits in environmental studies and history as they study Environmental Cooperation and Conflict, Landscape and Meaning, the History of Public Lands, and the Native West.

This prolonged journey into the field will allow us to learn directly from landscapes and ecosystems, as well as from people who live, work, and study in those places. Together, we expect to build a cohort of impassioned scholars with a particular breadth and depth of experiential knowledge who are equipped to build a better future for the West.

We will visit iconic, protected sites like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, contentious places like the Little Bighorn and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, working landscapes like the Butte Copper Mines, and communities from present-day Native nations to "New West" towns like Bend, Twisp, and Moab.

Meet the Expedition

Learn More About the Students and Faculty on the Expedition

Read the Latest Journal Entry

August 23, 2017

August 25, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

This week we welcomed all of our new and returning students to campus for the start of another exciting academic year. More than 40% of the incoming class comes from out of state and 16 countries from across the globe are represented. In addition, we had a number of new faculty and staff join us over the summer and I want to wish them all a warm Westminster welcome!

I want to thank everyone on campus who made orientation weekend such a success and, of course, those who helped bring in such a remarkable class of students.

As usual, final enrollment numbers will be in flux until the end of September and we will continue to provide updates as the numbers settle.

All College Meeting

This year’s first All College meeting will be on Wednesday, September 13, from 3–5:00 p.m. in the Gore Auditorium. We will provide additional information as we get closer to the event.

Kudos to the Provost

Provost Lisa Gentile will receive an Outstanding Achievement Award from the YWCA at their LeaderLuncheon in September. The award is given to five women for their commitment to advancing the well-being of Utah women and girls, and whose work exemplifies the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. I want to congratulate Lisa on this well-deserved recognition of hard work and lifelong dedication to improving the lives of those around her. 

Trip to India

For the past nine years, Westminster has been doing an international service project in Wai, India. Earlier this month, Sandy and I traveled to India to see our students and faculty in action. We were joined by SLCC President Deneece Huftalin and her husband Tim, as well as President of the Utah Technology Council, Richard Nelson. I was also invited to give two major speeches and presentations on our engagement work at MIT-World Peace University in Pune, India.


Visiting India was an opportunity of a lifetime and I appreciate the great work our faculty, staff, and students are doing to strengthen a community in India.

Back-To-School Barbeque

I hope you are all able to attend the Back-to-School Barbeque this Friday evening where we'll celebrate a successful start to the new year. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet many of our new faculty and staff. Please RSVP here.

Final Thoughts

This morning we officially launched another year at Westminster—classes started, the Westminster Expedition set off for their semester-long road trip, and campus came alive with students eager to make new discoveries as they explore their passions both in and out of the classroom.

Class Photo 2017

I am honored to be the president of this remarkable institution and play a part in changing the lives of every student who goes here. It is no secret that what I love most about Westminster is our sense of community. Westminster is committed to creating an environment where students can thrive, where they feel safe and supported and can confidently pursue their passions. With recent events at the University of Virginia and in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, I want to assure every member of our community that Westminster is committed to creating an inclusive campus. Westminster is dedicated to social justice, equity, and respect as fundamental components of our core values and our pursuit of excellence depends on our ability to bring individuals from diverse backgrounds together.

As we look ahead, I hope we will all continue to support one another, to engage in open dialogue and respect each other’s differences. At Westminster, we have proven time and time again that when we work together we can accomplish great things. Let’s carry that tradition forward and have a successful and memorable year.

Kind regards,


View All Journal Entries →

Expedition in the News

Two people on a canoe
Group of Students around Campfire

The Route

Our proposed route is an enormous figure eight, heading northwest first (because of potential early winter weather) and including Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Course-related sites include sites of environmental/cultural conflict or cooperation (e.g., Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; East Tavaputs Plateau tar sands; Klamath River dams; the Berkeley Pit, the Nevada Test Site, Owens Lake); National Parks (e.g., Yellowstone, North Cascades, Olympic, Redwood, Grand Canyon, Great Basin); wilderness areas (e.g., Bob Marshall, Glacier Peak); Native nations and sites (e.g., Burns Paiute, Coast Salish, Miwok, the Nez Perce trail, Colville, Pyramid Lake, Hopi); dam sites (e.g., Teton, Grand Coulee, Hoover, Hetch Hetchy, Snake River); and relevant towns/cities (e.g., Bozeman, Bend, Cody, Moab, Winthrop, Page).

Expedition Route

Course Descriptions

Follow the Expedition's Progress